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Michael Gove Tells Michel Barnier 'Ball is in Your Court' Amid Fading Hopes for a UK-EU Trade Deal

© AP Photo / Jonathan BradyBritain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove
Britain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove  - Sputnik International
There could be lines of 7,000 trucks at Dover and two-day waits to get into France immediately after the transition period ends at the end of December, according to worse case scenarios drawn up by the UK government. Up to 60 percent of lorries might not have the correct paperwork on January 1, the government has said.

The British Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove said the European Union had shown in recent weeks it was 'not serious' about striking a trade deal because it had failed to compromise on key issues. 

Gove told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday morning that the EU "effectively ended the current round of talks" when its 27 leaders met in Brussels on Thursday to take stock of progress and said more was required from the UK.

"We have drawn the conclusion that unless their approach changes, they are not interested and they have in effect drawn stumps", said Gove.

Asked by Marr whether the door was still ajar to further discussions, Gove replied: "It is still ajar. We hope the EU will change their position and we are certainly not saying if they do change their position we can't talk to them."

Speaking later to Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky, Gove said: “What we've seen and what our negotiators have found is the European Union side have not been willing to intensify the talks in a way that would indicate that they were actually serious about reaching an agreement. They've also insisted that both we accept a level of control over our autonomy that an independent country can't really accept”.

Gove added he still hoped a deal could be done in the coming weeks but stressed that for the UK to consider going back to the negotiating table the EU would have to dramatically change its approach.

Having previously put the chances of an agreement with the EU at 66 percent, Gove told Ridge that the chances were now "less".

"I can't be precise but one of the reasons why it's less is the position that's been taken in the last couple of weeks by European Union leaders."

Deadlocked Talks

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, was due in London for talks on Monday with the UK's chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, but the UK said this would be pointless without a significant change in direction from Brussels.

Gove has also warned Brussels that the UK is “well prepared” for a no-deal Brexit and will brave the “turbulence” to go it alone, and is now preparing to trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms.

Gove's comments follow British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying on Friday that the UK must be prepared for a no trade deal with the EU from January.

The UK is now in the transition period, which deep-freezes its membership of the Single Market and Customs Union until the end of the year.

UK-EU trade talks remain deadlocked over fishing rights, level playing field guarantees and the enforcement of the deal. 

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Failure to agree replacement trading arrangements will mean the UK leaving without a deal on January 1 and trading on WTO terms, which would introduce tariffs and quotas.

The Withdrawal Agreement will still be in place, so issues like the Irish border and the so-called "divorce bill" will be settled under its terms, but many other issues remain unresolved. 

In the absence of any formal deal, the UK would have to rely on WTO rules - in a model described by Brexiteers as an "Australia-style" relationship.

The default commission position is “all relevant” EU legislation will apply to imports and exports, including tariffs, which will mean customs checks. 

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